This brief summary is a first-hand personal view of the Alaska situation regarding the removal of two workers in approximately 1988.
Bob Ingram was removed from the work because of sexual misconduct that had happened and been laid to rest approximately 15 years before action was taken. By misconduct, I mean an attraction between him and a sister worker that did not result in fornication. This is my understanding from B.I. and others and I have no reason to doubt them.
Truitt Oiler was removed from the work and fellowship because he was preaching “false” doctrine. We understand this to be the second time he had been removed from the work. Several years prior to this event, while laboring in Washington state, he had been removed for a few years for the same reason. “False” doctrine.
In our minds eliminating the two brother workers was more a power move than anything else. The move backfired. The state was in an uproar. The elders, having received a cold informal letter from several out-of-state head workers stating the removal of B and T, did not appreciate not only the spirit of the letter, but that their input had not been considered. Elders from all over the state gathered for a meeting with several out-of-state head workers. There were many public meetings, emotions ran high, and true colors were revealed. The ugliness of it all was a real shock to many of the friends in Alaska and the situation was impossible for us to ignore.
Almost overnight, many of the friends lost respect for the workers. Even workers they had been close to put the church before truthful and honest communication. In the minds of some workers as well as some friends, for the sake of holding the church together, “lives had to be sacrificed.” It was organized religion at its worst!
As I recall all Alaska workers were under suspicion at that time and within a year they were dispersed to other states. There was concern (and rightly so) that the friendship between Alaska workers and friends would work against the out-of-state head workers. One sister worker was sent to Alberta, where after a question/answer grilling from the Head worker of Alberta, she was put out or chose to leave the work. Two sister workers were sent home to “rest.” One sister worker left the work but continued to go to meeting. A handful of workers were sent to Washington state while some of the others were sent to other states. None, that I know of, are free of the mindset that there is only one true way and the 2×2 church is IT.
New workers were sent in to Alaska to take the place of those who had been moved out. I believe these new workers sent in were carefully picked for their loyalty to “authority.”
Things did not quiet down very soon. A year later there were still problems between many of the friends and workers. The powers that be brought in more VIP in the church to win the people over. That’s when L.W. came to Alaska. Initially many viewed him as the Great White Hope, the one who could help make things right. We quickly saw how weak and ineffective he really was.
Many of the friends lost their meetings and other “privileges.” In time division among the friends came about. Workers played friends against friends. A “troublemakers” meeting was created in Anchorage, again by the out-of-state head workers, for some who had openly protested how things had been conducted. The only reason people were not “put out” was because the numbers were too great and there were some very influential friends with strong connections in other states. To put out everyone that did not support the behavior of the workers would have had a devastating and far reaching domino effect.
The whole Alaska experience was the beginning of our examining just what it was we were a part of. Bob Ingram and Truitt Oyler were our friends and, though we didn’t necessarily stand BEHIND them on everything, we stood BESIDE them. We could not have done anything less and still been able to face ourselves in the mirror each morning.
It took us several years to work through our mindset, and when we left it was without anger, having settled most questions in our minds. We hold no hard feelings for the church or workers. We understand them as being in a very elementary stage of learning what God is about. In our minds, they are in need of our compassion as we see them more as victims of ignorance than anything else.
Because this eye-opening experience left no one in the church unscathed, many can relate to some degree why we chose to leave. And so we remain friendly. The Alaska branch of the church is not the church it was in the 70s and early 80s. There is an apathy now that we never noticed before. Potlucks and picnics are much more rare. One elder’s wife admitted to me that the only reason they stay is because in all their 60 some years in the church it has been drilled into them that the 2×2 church is the only way and they’re simply afraid to leave, EVEN in the face of reason. Others believe there is one true church and this is IT but it’s a mess right now.
My purpose for publicizing this experience on the internet is because of what it revealed to us personally; that there is a lot of subtle psychological harm being committed in this church, either knowingly or unknowingly.
October 3, 1999
Click Here to read Letter to Alaska Friends by Head workers on the TellingTheTruth.info website